This morning’s Richmond Times-Dispatch might term it as an operation of bureaucrats, but it was the open commitment of a Republican-led General Assembly that ended decades of Democratic-era Byrd Machine opaqueness in a $736,000 effort to finally bring committee hearings to the public for the first time:
Until this year, there was no audio or video recording of such hearings unless someone made their own. For Virginians who live hours from the capital, getting to Richmond and attending a committee hearing is difficult or impossible. The live broadcasts and online archive will allow the public, lobbyists and anyone with an interest in committee hearings to watch from their home or office, and go back and review hearings indefinitely.
That could reduce the number of people who cram into the packed hearing rooms.
On the House side, staff operating cameras will work in two committee rooms and the speaker’s conference room in the Pocahontas Building and two committee rooms in the Capitol to record all full committee hearings. The cost for equipment and staff to start the program in the House was $511,000, Nardo said.
For the Senate, committee hearings will be broadcast and archived from the three rooms where full committees will meet — two in the Pocahontas Building and one in the Capitol. The Senate is using automated video equipment and the cost to start the program in that chamber is about $225,000, according to Schaar, the Senate clerk.
A minor victory for Richmond Sunlight, to be sure.